Dublin Fringe Festival.
Solpadeine is my Boyfriend by Stefanie Preissner.
Project Arts Centre, 39 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. To 15 September.
1pm. No show on 13th.
Runs 50 mins, no interval.
Tickets: 00 3531 8819 613 www.projectartscentre.ie // www.fringefest.com
Review: Michael Paye 7 September 2012.
Lively, topical production.
The Dublin Fringe Festival enters its eighteenth year this September, and promises innovative and socially relevant theatre. In Solpadeine is my Boyfriend, writer-actor Stefanie Preissner gives a one woman performance which is highly engaging. With unemployment and depression rates creating a stagnating paralysis in Ireland, Preissner takes on emigration, mental health, prescription drug abuse and their subsequent effects on relationships.
Our on-stage heroine relates her story through rhyme and free meter, mixed with normal speech patterns, detailing her fish out of water move from Cork to Dublin, her relationship with her friends and boyfriend, their break-up, and her addiction to solpadeine. Though the rhyming gives the performance a certain musical quality, occasionally it levels the emotional intensity, as we begin to nod along with the flow instead of engaging with the material. Otherwise, the script itself strikes a good balance between humour and gravity, and Preissner delivers it with aplomb.
A giant beanbag sits centre stage, with a boxing bag hanging from the rafters off to the side. On one particular occasion, as our narrator allows stress to drive her over the edge, she pushes the punch-bag futilely, crawls away, with the bag swinging from side to side like a metronome, creaking and grinding on the otherwise silent stage, and dissolves two solpadeine in a glass of water, then drinks it down hungrily. The image is very striking, and with some clever, gloomy lighting effects by Eoin Winning, the bag’s shadow is cast along the back wall, its swaying coming to a gentle stop, with our narrator’s nerves easing as she feeds her addiction.
The note of optimism on which the play ends feels a little cheesy but there is something oddly endearing about our heroine issuing a rallying call to those of us left behind to fight rather than flee. The feel-good factor is a nice balance with the otherwise bleak subject matter, and ends the show on an extraordinary note of optimism. It is certainly worth seeing.
Starring: Stefanie Preissner.
Director: Gina Moxley.
Choreographer: Clide Delaney.
Producers: David Mullane and Clíona Dukes.
Lighting: Eoin Winning.